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Report: Agencies spending more on temp workers to fill gaps

Federal government spending on temporary employees has more than quadrupled in the last decade, with health care professions seeing the largest share of the increase, according to a new report.

The National Employment Law Project reports that federal dollars obligated for temporary help services exploded from $323 million in 2008 to $1.7 billion in 2018. The report places the blame on the Trump administration and its "war on federal workers." While government shutdowns, executive orders aimed at union activity and a push to revoke telework agreements and change labor agreements have been the public face of this push to remake the federal bureaucracy, a hidden aspect is the reliance on temporary staffing services to fill critical roles at agencies, particularly in health care.

"Although temporary staffing agencies have traditionally provided employers with flexibility during short-term or unexpected increases in labor demand, some employers -- including the federal government … are increasingly offloading permanent positions in their workforce to temporary staffing agencies," the report states.

Health care contracts for temp workers at Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Prisons and the Federal Occupational Health Clinics accounted for 47% of all spending on temporary employment service contracts in 2018, according to the report.

A pair of Government Accountability Office reports that focused on health care at IHS and DOD cited the negative impact of using temporary staff both in terms of budget and quality of care.

J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement that "outsourcing that work to costly and unaccountable temp agencies" is part of the Trump administration's "insidious plan to privatize health care."

The report includes recommendations to improve accountability of outsourcing contracts to ensure that temps are compensated fairly and that contracts are reviewed annually to measure the cost benefit of outsourcing.

Reader comments

Mon, Jun 24, 2019

Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama and this current president have total contempt for civil servants. The idiots in congress and senate are so out of touch with reality and its time to reduce their salaries, perks and term limits are needed.

Thu, Jun 20, 2019 Sam USA

The federal government costs are going up and up and up because our President and Congress have constantly abused the federal workforce and as a result good, honest, Qualified, knowledgeable people no longer want to work for Uncle Sam and be abused and ridiculed. The VA health care system alone has 49,000+ job opening no Qualified medical personnel want to take.

Thu, Jun 20, 2019

Welcome to the new federal government, no more reasonable salaries, a pension (for those who can take the idiocy of elected and political appointed minions), government shutdowns and of course substandard working conditions. The thanks can go out to Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama and the great one now in office.

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